15 Common House Maintenance Mistakes That Kill Your House’s Value

Are you guilty of these value-killing house maintenance mistakes?

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Updated May 24, 2024
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Everyone thinks of homes as a surefire investment, steadily rising in value year after year. But like any structure, homes slowly crumble over time unless you keep them up.

In other words, for your home to appreciate to its maximum value, you must maintain it.

Here are the 15 common house maintenance mistakes that can depress your property value. If you want to avoid wasting money, pay attention to this list.

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Ignoring an old roof

Kathy images/Adobe old asphalt roof shingles

A damaged roof is a concept that can strike fear in the heart of any homeowner. The idea of replacing a roof is terrifying because it’s often expensive.

Even worse, however, is letting an old roof continue to age. This can lead to leaks and bigger issues that cause problems to spiral and your home’s value to plummet.

Although fixing or replacing a roof can be expensive, don’t delay. Find a way to pay for it, even if it means taking a temporary part-time job or finding another way to make extra money.

Not pulling permits

SnapVault/Adobe blueprints of a residence on a worktable

It can be tempting to skip obtaining a permit if you’re planning a small renovation project.

However, not only is this morally questionable, but it also can become a big issue if you decide to sell later. When putting your home on the market, you're required by law to disclose any renovations.

Whether you are doing the job DIY or hiring a contractor, make sure you apply for the permits when local laws say you must. If you're caught trying to sneak around permit laws, you could be fined or might have to do the work over from scratch.

The bottom line: It is never a good idea to violate the law, and that includes when you tackle a home renovation.

Neglecting to take care of the yard

Keitma/Adobe person rake leaves in autumn

Yard maintenance is physically demanding work that many would like to avoid for as long as possible. But the longer you let your yard go, the worse it will get.

That neglect could turn into an unmanageable project that will become an eyesore that destroys your home’s curb appeal.

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Failing to replace old appliances

Supermelon/Adobe vintage analog television

New appliances are expensive. But keeping old appliances well past their prime could hurt your home’s value when you go to sell.

Old appliances will immediately make your home look dated. They also might consume more energy than the new models you can get today. So, bite the bullet and pay for new appliances when the time comes.

Not changing your air filters

Serenethos/Adobe man pushing a clean air filter into place

Air filters must be changed regularly, typically quarterly or twice a year. If you neglect to change them consistently, your HVAC system is likely to see increased wear and tear.

An HVAC system that’s been through the wringer will alarm potential buyers, which could reduce your home’s selling price.

Using the wrong tools

pla2na/Adobe screw and open end wrench

Using the wrong tools on a home maintenance project could end up causing damage that will need to be fixed.

For example, you should use a tile saw to cut tile. Wait until you have access to the right tools before taking on any project.

Not optimizing the home for energy efficiency

Rido/Adobe energy efficiency house

From installing double-pane windows to ensuring your thermostat is programmed to maximize energy usage, the expectation in homes today is that they will be optimized for energy efficiency.

So, if you want to maintain your home’s value, don’t ignore replacing old insulation or an outdated HVAC system.

Neglecting to clean the dryer vent

Viktoria/Adobe dust and hairs in reservoir trap of the drying machine

Each time you run the dryer, clean the vent afterward. This is an easy, daily maintenance task that you can handle.

Failing to clean the vent regularly means facing a potential fire hazard and causing more wear and tear to your machine than is necessary.

Forgetting to check for termite damage

forestpath/Adobe termite damaged wood

Termites destroy nearly everything in their path and can cause extensive damage from top to bottom in a home.

These tiny insects can be difficult or impossible for the average homeowner to detect, so consider hiring an inspector to check for them.

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Using drain cleaners too often

OneBit/Adobe hands in yellow rubber gloves

When you have a clogged drain, it’s tempting to use a drain cleaner to solve the problem. But this can cause more issues than it solves.

A drain cleaner sometimes merely pushes the clog lower, which could end up causing a bigger clog within your pipes. This is in addition to possible damage to the pipes from the chemicals in the drain cleaner formula.

Not addressing leaks

igor rotari/Adobe bathroom faucet

Whether they’re in the bathroom, kitchen, mudroom, or flowing from some unidentified source, if you don’t address leaks, you could end up with more extensive damage that will gut your home’s value.

A seemingly small leak can quickly spread from rotted wood to drywall that needs to be replaced. So, take care of leaks right away.

Letting the gutters fill up

MVProductions/Adobe cleaning leaves in a rain gutter

Gutters are a critical piece of your home’s infrastructure. They direct water away from your home to prevent damage to the siding, foundation, roof, and other elements.

If you let the leaves and debris pile up, the water will have nowhere to go except toward your house. Make sure to clean gutters seasonally to prevent unnecessary damage to your home.

Not resealing your counters after you install them

Summer Paradive/Adobe architect hand choosing sample

Gorgeous new counters are a splurge that you’ll enjoy nearly every day. But most homeowners may not realize that they need to be sealed — and not just when you first install them.

Resealing should take place every few years to help prevent stains and damage from water, the sun, and more.

Allowing deep cleaning to fall off the radar

hedgehog94/Adobe removing dirt from sofa

If you allow dirt, dust, and grime to pile up, getting your home back to a sparkling clean state will become much more difficult.

It’s important to regularly schedule deep cleaning from the baseboards to the oven to keep your home at its best.

Not having an annual maintenance plan in place

Srdjan/Adobe smart couple business owners

The easiest way to stay on top of these maintenance tasks is to put a plan into place. Make a checklist, then, season by season, stay on top of these tasks, and maintain your home to keep it in great shape. 

Doing so could help you to get ahead financially and stay there as the years roll on.

Bottom line

MoreThanProd/Adobe solar panels on roofs

A home can be a good investment, but you must take proper care of the structure to get the most value from it.

So, if you want to avoid wasting money by selling your home for less than what you know it's worth, make sure you avoid the mistakes on this list.

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Author Details

Heather Bien

Heather Bien is a writer covering personal finance and budgeting and how those relate to life, travel, entertaining, and more. With bylines that include The Spruce, Apartment Therapy, and mindbodygreen, she's covered everything from tax tips for freelancers to budgeting hacks to how to get the highest ROI out of your home renovations.